Why are online catalogs hard to use? Lessons learned from information-retrieval studies
Research in user behavior on online catalogs is in its early stages, but preliminary findings suggest that users encounter many of the same problems identified in behavioral studies of other types of bibliographic retrieval systems. Much can be learned from comparing the results of user behavior studies on these two types of systems. Research on user problems with both the mechanical aspects and the conceptual aspects of system use is reviewed, with the conclusion that more similarity exists across types of systems in conceptual than in mechanical problems. Also discussed are potential sources of the problems, due either to individual characteristics or to system variables. A series of research questions is proposed and a number of potential interim solutions are suggested for alleviating some of the problems encountered by users of information systems. © 1986 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.